Robeson Co Pound in NC on a Killing Spree

The Robeson Co pound kills animals while half the dog cages sit empty.  Supporters defend the practice, saying it reduces the spread of disease.  This has not been the case at Robeson, where 700 dogs have been killed in the last 2 months.

There are proven methods to reduce the spread of disease in shelters.  Vaccination upon intake for every animal is one such practice.  Robeson does not do this.  Killing apologists will say the “irresponsible public” is to blame for failing to vaccinate their pets.  But the shelter should be leading by example.  More importantly, the shelter is supposed to be a safe haven for the community’s pets – not the county pet butcher.

While recognizing that shelters face special challenges with regard to contagious disease, an info sheet from the UC Davis Koret Shelter Medicine Program says:

Even if infection control is less than perfect, we can support animals’ own immune response through attentive vaccination practices, stress reduction, wholesome food and clean water and other measures to support well-being.  And a well thought out, comprehensive plan for sanitation can reduce the dose of exposure to one the animals’ immune response can handle in many cases.

I don’t see any mention of sending 700 dogs to the landfill in two months’ time in the UC Davis info sheet.  I hope Robeson considers an alternative approach since obviously the one they use isn’t working.

Robeson Co Animal Shelter: Still Failing

Robeson Co Animal Shelter has significantly lowered its kill rate due mainly to aggressive marketing of its pets on Facebook.  This is good.  But it’s not sustainable.  Robeson Co rejects the no kill philosophy and instead keeps rescuers in crisis mode.  The reason Robeson Co is killing fewer animals is because they are continually pummeling rescuers with “pull this pet or we’ll kill him” type threats.  In the long run, this burns rescuers out.  But currently, the pound has numerous defenders on Facebook who see the small picture (less killing) and seem to believe that Robeson Co is doing the best it can.

Robeson Co is not doing the best it can.

Meet Thelma.

She was listed on the pound’s Facebook page as a young Lemon Walker Hound with a note that she was scared in the shelter environment but warming up to people.  They even posted a short vid clip of Thelma to show how sweet she was despite her nervousness.

Today, Robeson Co killed Thelma – not because she was nervous, sick or in any way unadoptable, but because they were out of room.  This is the status update the pound posted to Facebook earlier today:

Thelma was killed for space (I could not find any information on the other pet, Shoney) and the pound is threatening to kill many more, also for space, tomorrow.  You may have an idea in your mind that Robeson Co, a 50 run facility, has already buddied up every dog they possibly can, has all 50 runs full, is keeping a couple of lobby dogs in crates in an office at night, has maxed out their fosters and is working like mad to get dogs transferred out today in order to free up space.  If you do have that idea in your head, erase it.  It’s not true.

To the best of my knowledge, Robeson has at least 25 runs empty at all times.  They do not buddy up dogs.  They do not have a foster program.  You might be wondering why a place with 25 empty kennels killed Thelma today for space.  From Robeson’s FB photos:

25 dogs, 1 per kennel, and this 50 run facility starts killing for space.  They do not have a vaccination upon intake protocol in place but they do apparently use whatever donated vaccines the public sends them when they have them.  They say the practice of keeping half the place empty reduces disease outbreak and that they can’t pair up dogs because this could increase the chance that the pound might break with parvo or distemper.  Their defenders say the practices at Robeson lead to less disease than other NC shelters.  Gee, it’s super swell that dogs like Thelma are hale and hearty on their way to the landfill.  What a comfort.

Standard practice of vaccination upon intake across the board would serve to reduce the possibility of disease and allow all cages to be utilized.  It would also allow for dogs to be buddied up wherever possible.  But even if Robeson Co refuses to adopt the practice of vaccination upon intake, I still say they should use all the cages and pair up dogs before killing “for space”.  Yes, there would be an increased risk of disease but since the alternative is DEATH, I think it’s well worth the risk.

I know sometimes I come across as a hardline no kill advocate.  It’s places like Robeson that remind me why.  Less killing is better than more killing but it’s not good enough.  It still fails pets because it doesn’t guarantee that their inherent right to life will be respected.  It failed Thelma.  And it will keep failing until there is either a change in practices or someone in NC gets a CAPA type law passed to remove the discretion of who to kill from shelter directors who think a half-empty shelter is a good reason to kill pets.

I’m sorry you ended up at Robeson, Thelma.  You are loved.  You are not forgotten.

***

If you are in Robeson Co and interested in either learning more about no kill or working to get a CAPA type law introduced in your state, please contact me.  I will help.

National Animal Shelter Reform Week: Why NC Needs CAPA

In 2010, Surry Co Animal Control in NC took in 3933 pets and killed 3548 of them.  That’s a kill rate of 90%.  The cost to taxpayers per animal handled was $119.  Surry Co charges $100 for dogs and $90 for cats (vaccines and neuter surgery included).  The median household income in Surry Co in 2008 was $37k.  Surry Co does not adopt out Pitbulls, Rottweilers, Chows, mixes of any of those breeds, or any dog who has either bitten or “shown aggression”.

Also during 2010, Robeson Co AC took in 4515 pets and killed 2073 of them – a kill rate of 46%.  The cost to taxpayers was $43.57 per animal handled.  Robeson pets are adopted out at $25 each and the fee includes rabies vaccination and neuter surgery.  The median household income in Robeson Co in 2008 was $31k.

In September of this year, a concerned resident went before the Surry County Board of Commissioners to ask them to consider working toward no kill.  In response, a county spokesman described the county’s relationship with local rescues as “good”, noted that the kill rate has decreased in recent years (!) and blamed the public for failing to neuter their pets.  The spokesman also mentioned that the county had looked into the possibility of working toward no kill in the past:

“There were large costs associated with a no kill shelter, and it was just not feasible for Surry County.”

From the stats above, we can see that Robeson Co is saving far more pets than Surry Co at a lower cost to taxpayers and in a poorer county.  Both pounds kill “for space” and neither has put into place the lifesaving programs of the No Kill Equation.  One notable difference:  the Robeson pound very actively networks its pets online, including on Facebook.  When approached with the idea of using Facebook to network Surry Co’s pets, the Board Chairman declined, referring to “problems” which exist with the social networking site.

Granted, Facebook has ongoing privacy issues and I’m not a huge fan personally.  But I am impressed with how it can be used to save the lives of pets in kill shelters.  Robeson is a good example.  The pound there has a particularly shady past and a local advocate even brought a lawsuit against the pound to get them to stop killing pets who had rescue holds placed on them (the lawsuit was later dropped).  Nevertheless in 2010, the pound brought its kill rate down from 90% to 46%.  It’s a significant improvement and seems to be attributable largely to online networking of pets by the manager and staff.

At least one person is Surry Co was concerned enough about the 90% kill rate at the county pound to speak to the county commissioners about no kill.  Their excuses, that things are going well and no kill is too expensive, are easily challenged:  You’re killing 90% of your pets (things are not going well!) and no kill is cost effective (it’s not too expensive!).  Oh and:  The Irresponsible Public!  (A member of which came before you to offer suggestions on how to save pets lives.)  For the sake of argument, let’s agree with the county commissioners for a moment that a 90% kill rate represents an improvement and we’re good with that, no kill is too expensive and the people in Surry Co suck.  What about networking pets online?  Sure there might be “problems” associated with any social networking site but gee, has anyone checked with the pets in the Surry Co pound whether they consider death to be a “problem”?  Networking pets online saves lives.  And it’s free.  What is the real reason Surry Co is so resistant to making even a small change like this?

Protecting the status quo.  Surry Co commissioners want to keep doing what they’ve always done with the pound, despite ample evidence that change could be beneficial to the county.  It’s the same reason why, even with leadership in place to network its pets online, Robeson Co had to be taken to court in an effort to prevent them from killing pets rescue groups wanted to save.  At the Robeson pound, it’s the shelter manager who does the killing, which rather puts a damper on how excited anyone can get over the online networking.

The homeless pets in Surry Co and Robeson Co can’t wait for their leaders to embrace sweeping reform.  They are being needlessly killed by the thousands every year.  If NC had CAPA in place, neither Surry nor Robeson would have the discretion to resist change.  It would be their legal mandate to save pets lives, along with every other animal shelter in the state.

If you are a NC resident concerned with saving pets from needless killing at your shelters, here is a 4 step guide on how to get CAPA passed.  (If you are in another state which lacks a rescue access law, this guide works for you too!)  Please take the time to read through the guide and share it with anyone you think might make use of it.  Let us know if you have comments, questions or thoughts on getting CAPA passed in your state.  And especially let us know if we can count on you to try.

North Carolina’s pets can’t wait any longer while well-intentioned advocates ask nicely for change on the local level and get patted on the head and told to sit back down.  They need you to step up and get CAPA introduced in NC as a state law so that every shelter is legally required to actually shelter pets.

 

You don’t have to say anything.

You don’t have to say anything.  I already know all of it.  I can not personally save every pet on every kill list in every pet slaughterhouse in the country.  I am focused on the big picture – systemic change, so that one day there will be no need to scramble every night, making desperate pleas for doomed shelter pets.  If we continue to chase their “Just save one more” carrot, we will be forever at the mercy of those who refuse to stop the killing.  If we act based upon our emotions without putting careful thought into it, we will end up hurting the ones we seek to protect when we run out of funds, out of foster homes, out of our minds.

I know all of that.

As such, I endeavor to avoid looking at kill lists.  I choose not be held hostage by those capable of killing a healthy/treatable pet when lifesaving alternatives exist.  I refuse to be kept in their little cage of cruelty, forever running madly on their spinning wheel, begging everyone to just save one more.  It’s a form of abuse.  Do.  Not.  Want.

I fail.  Sometimes I feel compelled to look.  I can’t stop myself.  During those weak moments, I suffer.  I am ashamed of my failure.  I am ashamed to be of the same species as those who would put a needle of death syrup into this dog and call it kindness.

Unknown ID # dog at Robeson Co Animal Shelter in NC, on the kill list for September 14, listed on FB as "Male Hound/Terrier, Pit Bull 8 Months Entry 8-30 Call RCAS 910-865-2200 or email us at animal.shelter@hth.co.robeson.nc.us"

I Survived Quarantine but Will I Survive Robeson?

The Good:  North Carolina’s Robeson Animal Shelter, which has been closed most of this month for quarantine due to distemper, re-opened for adoptions this week.

The Bad:  Vaccination upon intake is still not standard protocol at Robeson and I haven’t heard whether they implemented any of the recommended changes from the HSUS evaluation in November 2010.  That evaluation cost $5000 and was conducted by two people, one of whom regular readers know as the director of the We Play Dress Up with Drugged Kitties Shelter in Charlotte.  The suggestions seem to be sound, especially the parts about not spraying out runs with dogs in them (Hello, Memphis?) and separating sick pets from healthy ones – but the folks in charge at the state level rated the report a meh.  And thus, rampant distemper in March 2011.

The Ugly:  After being open for a whopping TWO DAYS, Robeson is already marking for death a dozen dogs who rode out the quarantine.  They used donated vaccines to vaccinate these dogs and even dewormed them using donated dewormer.  Now they are threatening to kill them because they haven’t gotten any rescue calls about them:

Threat posted on Robeson Co Animal Shelter's Facebook page today.

A Facebook comment from the shelter regarding the high number of dogs they've taken in today and at the end, a reference to the dogs who survived quarantine.

You know what happens when you’re a municipal shelter and you open up after being closed for more than 2 weeks?  You get a bunch of intakes.  (Disclaimer:  I didn’t go to Rocket Science School, this is just my layman’s opinion.)

Rescuers have been doing a good job helping to save pets at Robeson.  I am hopeful these dogs will be adopted or rescued.  Failing that, I guess I hope they “wake up” at the landfill, make a break for it, and find their way to someone who loves pets.

 

Shelter Pets of the Day

Buddy

Dane

Elroy

Fancy

Gerti

Homer

Marlon

Mr. Mugsy

Ms. Maisy

From Robeson County Animal Shelter's Facebook page: "Nugget RCAS#45336 Yellow lab Chow mix sweetheart of a boy and Loris fav in the shelter right now!"

Orson

Taylor

Robeson County Animal Shelter
255 Landfill Rd
St. Pauls, NC 28384
910-865-2200

For those who don’t follow Robeson County Animal Shelter’s postings on Facebook, I wanted to share that they are planning to kill these dogs at 8am tomorrow.  These are healthy dogs – not medically hopeless and suffering – and none have any serious behavioral problems noted by the shelter on FB.  They are being killed because, per the FB posting, they are “out of time”.

Residents of Robeson County, NC – this is your community animal shelter funded by your taxes.  Does this shelter’s practice of killing healthy pets because of an arbitrary date on the calendar reflect your values and beliefs?  If it doesn’t, use your power as a tax paying citizen to call for reform.  Contact your county commissioners and if you don’t get results, work your way up the legislative ladder.  Robeson County is entitled to a culture of compassion at their animal shelter.  The needless killing of healthy pets is not compassionate.  And positive change does not happen while kind-hearted people sit idle.

Robeson Co Animal Shelter: Bring Out Your Undead

Since the Robeson Co Animal Shelter in NC doesn’t have a shelter vet, they pay private veterinarian Curt Locklear to kill pets at the shelter.  Recently, allegations have emerged that Dr. Locklear is improperly euthanizing some pets at the shelter – that is, failing to confirm death before tossing them in a truck with dead pets.  That truck dumps its load at the landfill, where the pets who weren’t dead wake up and start walking around.

Susan Barrett, a local animal activist, “says live animals have been found several times at the landfill”:

“One is too many. And it’s not just the one, not just the two, not just the three. This is happening way too often,” Barrett said.

The number of live pets Robeson has sent to the dump appears to be in dispute.  Dr. Locklear puts the number at one:

[Dr. Locklear] confirmed that there was a recent instance in which a live puppy was transported to the landfill, but said he was unaware of any other similar incidents.

He said the animal had been sedated, but the second part of the process — a heartstick or IV injection — was not performed.

“It was just a mistake,” he said. “When it was discovered alive, the puppy was brought to my office, where it was euthanized properly.”

No word on whether the puppy had been medically hopeless and suffering prior to the unimaginable terror he experienced waking up among dead pets at the dump, but Robeson does kill healthy/treatable pets and I don’t know in which category this puppy belonged.  In any case, if he was healthy/treatable, what kind of person would go back and finish the job, so to speak, after learning the puppy had been subjected to such horror?  I guess what I’m asking is, what would it take to inspire Dr. Locklear to spare one puppy’s life?

[Susan Barrett] said that until this past week, animals were euthanized on the floor of the kennel in front of other animals rather in the shelter’s euthanasia room.

If this is accurate, I have to wonder how anyone could allow such cruelty to occur at what is supposed to be a safe haven for pets.  It’s inexcusable.

The shelter’s response was to get the manager, Lori Baxter, certified so that all the killing could be done in-house:

The manager of Robeson County’s animal shelter plans to take over euthanasia responsibilities at the shelter next week after at least two live puppies were sent to the county dump.

Two, one, several – whatever.  It was just a mistake.  *shrug*

Per Ms. Baxter:

“The staff over here is working hard to get this turned around, and we need the support of the community, not their hate mail.”

Got it community?  You do not have permission to express your outrage at the killing of healthy/treatable pets, some of whom may be waking up in the landfill after only being sedated by the vet the county uses your tax dollars to pay to kill them.

Ms. Baxter should have some extra time to whip up community support this week as the state has halted killings at the shelter:

State regulators have ordered the Robeson County Animal Shelter to stop euthanizing animals after a live puppy was found dumped at a nearby landfill.

The Animal Welfare Section of the state Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services also imposed a $2,000 civil penalty for the shelter’s actions.

Do you think the $2k is going to come out of Robeson’s Fatal Plus budget?  Or Dr. Locklear’s paycheck?  Yeah, me neither.  But hold your hate mail.

In this same article, we get an “explanation” from the shelter manager for how a vet might not be able to confirm death in pets accurately:

The vet was pressing his hand against the animals to determine whether they were breathing and so didn’t accurately determine that the puppy was dead, Baxter said.

I don’t know what vet school teaches the hand pressing method of verifying death but apparently, it no worky.

It was just a mistake.  Come on community, where is your goddamn support?!

The Problem with Robeson Co

The problem with Robeson Co is not that the animal shelter allows pets in their care to suffer.  And it’s not that the shelter needlessly kills the community’s pets via heartstick.  And it’s not that the bureaucrats in charge defend the shelter’s cruel practices and shoddy leadership, even as the shelter fails inspection after inspection by the state.

No, the problem with Robeson Co is that the people are just a bunch of stupid whiners.  At least that’s how I interpret county health director Bill Smith’s sentiments as he talks about interviewing candidates for a permanent shelter manager – a position that has been widely criticized for the shelter’s many failures:

Smith has defended the interim manager. Anyone who takes that position should expect similar criticism, Smith said, regardless of the job they do.

See, the people of Robeson Co are too dumb to know what it is they’re complaining about.  It doesn’t really matter if the shelter manager neglects pets or even kills them.  The people are going to grouse about the position anyway.  So no point in going out on a limb and actually doing your job to shelter and care for pets.  The stupid public won’t be able to tell the difference and they’ll just continue their whining regardless.

Your tax dollars paying Mr. Smith’s salary and this is what he says to the local paper about you Robeson Co.  Wonder what he says behind your back?

Is Robeson Co Trying to Hide Poor Shelter Pet Care?

Of all the reports of abuse, killing and mismanagement at Robeson Co Animal Shelter in NC, this one frustrates me the most.  And it’s not even directly about a pet suffering or being killed.

A new policy enacted last month bars members of the public from taking pictures or recording video inside the shelter.

Of course we know why:

Dozens of photos of dead kittens, emaciated dogs and dirty kennels at the shelter have been posted online the past several months.

And naturally, the bureaucrats in charge have an explanation:

Albert Locklear, director of environmental health with the county, said the photos unfairly added to widespread criticism of the shelter.

“I know for a fact there have been a lot of pictures that have went out, that when the average person sees it, it’s not an issue,” Locklear said. “But there are certain folks out there whose hearts are easily moved, I think.”

So in Mr. Locklear’s view, there are certain folks out there whose hearts are so easily moved, it takes nothing more than photographic evidence of shelter pet abuse and death to touch them.  But those are not your average people.  Average, normal, regular people look at a photo of a dead kitten or a starving dog at the shelter and just don’t see what the fuss is about.

Mr. Locklear, you are sadly out of touch with your community.  Here in the south, we may lack the the financial and education advantages some people in other parts of the country enjoy, but we love our pets.  We don’t want them to suffer or be killed.  And most importantly, the taxpayers of NC pay your salary and own the shelter.  So who are you to tell the people in your community that they are uncaring?  Who are you to order them not to take pictures of animals at the shelter?  This is the people’s shelter.  You are but the people’s servant.

Perhaps most infuriating of all:

The policy also set a 15-minute time limit for visitors to browse the kennels for a new pet.

You know what?  Screw you.  You have no right to tell the people who own the shelter how long they can spend looking for a pet.  Never mind that a caring person (which I know you don’t believe any exist in your community) is going to spend more than 15 minutes with a pet after they’ve found a good potential match.  Never mind that the first pet an adopter spends time with might not be “the one”.  Never mind that the idea behind shelter pet adoptions is to have them stick for life and that no one could possibly expect to achieve that goal in 15 minutes total.

Forget all of that because I say again, you have no right to limit visits from the taxpayers of NC to an arbitrary time.  Unless your goal is to decrease adoptions and thus make it appear that you are correct in branding the people of your community as callous.  But I sincerely hope that isn’t your intent.  I hope you are simply a bunch of misguided stuffed shirts who think they can get away with murder on the taxpayer’s dime.  In any case, your days are numbered.  Your antiquated ways of thinking are being rejected by communities everywhere.  We are a no kill nation of pet lovers.  Join us.

Robeson Co Animal Shelter: “Mostly Positive”

Robeson Co Animal Shelter in NC recently failed two state inspections due to multiple issues including failing to maintain the shelter in accordance with standard disease control practices and failure to provide veterinary care for sick pets.  The shelter manager explained the inspection failures as being due to overcrowding.  She further described the arbitrary killing of all dogs under 1 year of age as “merely disease control”.  Last week, there was a meeting to update the county on how things are going at the shelter:

Members of the Robeson County Board of Health heard a mostly positive report Thursday about ongoing improvements at the county animal shelter.

Mostly positive?  Whaaaaa?

The shelter update, however, did not include details about a recent parvo outbreak that forced staff to euthanize more than 50 puppies last week.

And [shelter manager April] Lowry made no mention of two state inspections the shelter has failed in the past month.

Oh.  I see.  Well I guess if you leave those minor killing and neglect issues out, the picture does get a whole lot rosier.

When asked specifically about the failed state inspections, a shelter supervisor appeared to be spinning the same yarn as the shelter manager:

[Environmental Health Director Albert] Locklear said most of the violations were the result of overcrowding at the shelter. A new policy requiring adopted pets to be spayed should help when it goes into effect Oct. 1.

How is spaying adopted pets in October going to address current issues of neglect and the spread of disease due to employee laziness?  Will spaying pets in October cause the people in charge to quit lying about why they failed state inspections and start doing their jobs?  I’m not seeing it.

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